Some of the details surrounding the death of former UCLA basketball player Jalen Hill are becoming more clear, but an investigation of the cause of his death is ongoing in Costa Rica.
Forensic analysis of skeletal remains found last month in Costa Rica were confirmed to be Hill’s, Costa Rican law enforcement authorities confirmed Thursday.
Hill’s father posted on Instagram on Tuesday announcing the 22-year-old’s death and that Hill had gone missing while in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s Organismo de Investigación Judicial Los Santos office carried out the DNA analysis with samples from family members after the remains were found in the Napoles de Tarrazu sector, at the intersection between Naranjillo de Tarrazu and Santa Juana de Quepos on Monday, Aug. 8, a spokesperson for OIJ said.
Hill and his sister, Tatianna, arrived in Costa Rica in April. The two “… explored the jungles and beaches together, went Airbnb hopping, ate great food fresh from the ocean and smoked great weed lol …,” she wrote on her Instagram on Tuesday.
Tatianna writes about a farm they visited in Costa Rica, south of San Jose. It was the last place she saw him, according to her post.
“He was only here with me for a few days before going missing. I didn’t have enough time to figure out what was going on with him. They stopped letting me in. It’s still a Mystery for me,” she wrote.
Tatianna stayed in Costa Rica until Hill’s body was identified.
“I came to Costa Rica with my best friend and now I’m leaving without you. You’re resting in true paradise now and I have to accept that,” she wrote on Instagram.
Hill, a 6-foot-10 center out of Corona Centennial High, was an often-smiling, beloved teammate who starred at every level, from club to college. The basketball community is mourning his death.
“I don’t know where to begin,” Compton Magic founder and CEO Etop Udo-Ema wrote via Twitter. “When we (first) met you were still wearing the goggles. To become a great player and young man at UCLA. We traveled all over the world together. [Compton] Magic, UCLA, USA. I hope you know how much I love you and it hurts that I can’t tell you one more time.”
David Grace, a former UCLA Assistant Coach who now coaches high school basketball in Arizona, shared his condolences, too.
“I’m just so crushed hearing the news that Jalen Hill has passed away! Devastating! Had a tremendous smile and was always great to be around! I loved our conversations! My Deepest Condolences! RIP Jalen!,” Grace tweeted.
Hill was transparent about his struggle with anxiety and depression following an international shoplifting scandal. He and teammates Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were detained after Stealing items from three stores during the team’s trip to China to play Georgia Tech in November 2017, leading to season-long suspensions, and he shared his emotions after leaving the team.
He said being arrested in China when he was 17, coupled with the assorted changes being made around him, took a toll on him on and off the court.
“With the whole China episode, then the next year my Coach (Steve Alford) got fired, then we had an interim Coach and then a new Coach (Mick Cronin),” Hill told Southern California News Group Reporter James Williams in a phone interview . “It was just a lot of new things coming into my life.”
Hill graduated from Corona Centennial High in 2017 after averaging 18.8 points and 12.5 rebounds per game his senior year.
He arrived that fall in Westwood for his freshman year and redshirted the 2017-18 season before playing in 77 games at UCLA through three seasons, including 40 starts, averaging 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and eight career double-doubles. They cited anxiety and depression as reasons for leaving the team in February 2021,
“The news of Jalen Hill’s passing is heartbreaking. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time,” UCLA Coach Mick Cronin wrote via Twitter on Tuesday night. “Jalen was a warm-hearted young man with a great smile who has left us far too soon.”